If your home is truly your castle, then the view through your windows must encompass your domain. How is your view today? Looking smudgy and cracked? Struggling to see past the broken frame and condensation pooling in the corners? Your windows are an element of your home that you see every day, but how often do they receive proper maintenance and replacement requirements?
In the best of circumstances, windows should be replaced roughly every 15-20 years. In historic homes, you may want to replace elements of the window, but leave the presiding look to match the home. For most homeowners, replacing windows only becomes a necessity when a baseball comes through the glass or when mold develops.
In recent years, window frame options have experienced some drastic changes. No longer are you limited to a basic wood frame (although that may still be an attractive option). In this article, we will discuss the benefits of different frame and glass options, as well as installation techniques and tips.
Window Design Options
Perhaps the first place many homeowners look when changing their windows is to design. Current popular window designs include: double-hung, single-hung, casement-style, awning-style, hopper-style, or fixed. Depending on the amount of space, the energy-efficiency, and the insulation options, some of these may work better for you than others.
For example, a fixed window is one that does not open or ventilate. These windows are a great option if you want to put them high on a wall, or use a unique shape as an accent in a room. They tend to have a more diverse range of available shapes because they do not have to take hinges and opening features into account. Fixed windows can be extremely energy-efficient with proper paneling and insulation techniques.
A double-hung window is a fairly energy-efficient option and one of the most popular designs for homes. Double-hung windows have a stationary glass pane at the top, and a lower pane that slides upwards to open the window. They are energy-efficient in most environments, but if your weather gets extreme, there’s potential for air intrusion between the sliders.
If you live in a windy environment, casement windows may be your best option. Casement windows work by operating a crank that pushes the window out and then seals it shut. When the wind blows against the house, these windows will automatically seal tighter, instead of leaking air out. To make these windows the most stable and efficient, they must receive regular maintenance.
Awning-style windows are similar to casements but work by having a hinge at the top of the window. You then crank out the bottom half of the window, resulting in a sloped window open at the bottom. These are great for keeping out wind, and can deflect rain in a storm, but cannot be used with an air conditioning unit and prove harder to clean.
Window Frame Materials
Your second consideration when replacing windows should be the material of your frame. Common frame options are vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fiberglass, and each has distinct benefits and downfalls. Included here is information to help you determine which material is the most suitable for your home.
As far as cost goes, aluminum windows are about the cheapest option you can find, but that affordability comes at a cost. Aluminum windows are wonderful at conducting cold and heat, meaning the external temperature can get inside, and quickly. For this reason, aluminum windows are best if used only in mild climates, where significant hot or cold temperatures are not experienced.
Vinyl windows are a very popular option, as they are similar in cost to aluminum, but offer superior insulative capabilities. Vinyl windows are like aluminum, in that they have a hollow frame design, making them more insulative and less space consuming (more glass and less frame). Unfortunately, your options for vinyl windows are very limited, and you will not be able to paint them if you grow tired of their appearance.
Perhaps the most classic option is still the wood framed window. Wood is a fairly efficient insulator and comes with endless style options, in both paint and stain. One drawback to wood is that you must be careful to maintain it well, repainting and staining when necessary, as well as preventing wood decay and rot.
The most high-end option on the market in recent years is fiberglass. Fiberglass windows are designed to be an incredibly energy-efficient, low maintenance, durable window option. While fiberglass will cost a little more, it is likely to last the longest and provide the most significant benefit in terms of style and efficiency for your home.
Window Glass Options
Referred to as glass or “glazing,” the glass in your windows is just as important as the other options. From low-E windows to argon fill, your window panes can be just as complex, if not more so, than the frames. Choosing which insulative and coating options to go with can mean a serious reduction in your energy bills, as well as improved home appearance.
Low-E glass windows stand for low-emissivity. These windows are covered with a high-tech coating that repels ultraviolet sun rays and blocks heat from the sun, while still allowing most visible light in. This results in a sunny, bright room without dangerous UV rays. Nearly all manufacturers now include low-E in their window options, but there is a big difference between standard and high-performance.
If the idea of injecting compressed gas in-between your window panes sounds appealing, you may benefit from improved energy-efficiency. Argon gas is an odorless, colorless gas that is trapped between window pane layers to provide better insulation without detracting from the view.
Contact American Home Contractors
If you’re ready to replace the windows in your home, it may be time to talk to a professional. With options ranging from high-end fiberglass frames to standard energy efficient coatings, American Home Contractors has the perfect options for you.
Contact us today for more information.